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How can you study for your final exam when you’ve just been evicted from your apartment? How can you pay your college tuition when you just lost your job? How can you make it through your morning classes when you haven’t eaten that day, or for the past three days? These are very real questions facing several Montgomery College students for whom the Foundation has developed a solution: emergency assistance funds.

Donna Pina, director of foundation finance

“We support students in all different types of ways,” said Donna Pina, director of foundation finance. “We’ve provided hearing aids, paid rent, helped kids with transportation or utility expenses…whatever they need so they can continue in school and be successful.”

In the last three fiscal years, over $80,000 in emergency assistance funds have been awarded by the Foundation to 140 students. Their needs have ranged from the more basic (buying size 13 ½ shoes for a man who was hobbling to school every day in a size 11) to the more complex (providing legal documentation for a woman whose identity had been stolen). The Foundation vets each request by reviewing the student’s financial aid package, asking him or her to provide documentation (when possible) to support the need, and then making an award directly to the party who must be paid, whether that be by writing a check to a landlord or doctor or providing a gift card for a student to shop for groceries.

*To donate to student emergency assistance funds, please visit and click on “student emergency assistance” in the dropdown menu.

“Montgomery College and Montgomery College Foundation support students wherever they are,” said Pina. “If it’s emergency assistance or its academic assistance, the goal is for the students to be successful. And this is just one part of it.”

In the last three fiscal years, over $80,000 in emergency assistance funds have been awarded by the Foundation to 140 students

Genevieve Carminati runs the food pantry on the Rockville Campus

Requests for emergency assistance funds usually come from faculty and staff, who are adept at recognizing Montgomery College’s most vulnerable students. Genevieve Carminati, Women’s and Gender Studies Program director, who also runs the food pantry on the Rockville Campus, said that food insecurity is one of the most telling signals of even greater obstacles a student may be facing.

“One of our English professors sent me an email because she recognized one of our students was hungry,” Carminati said. “From his needing something to eat, we discovered he was in a neglectful situation, he couldn’t pay his fall tuition, and he was getting ready to live out of his car.”

Once the Foundation learned of this student’s situation, they immediately did two things: they forgave his fall semester debt due to his excellent academic record, and they gave him emergency funds to find housing, pay for food, and get back on his feet. “If not for this, he probably would have dropped out and been living in his car,” Carminati said.

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